The Crowds Cheered as Gloom Galloped Away

By Matthea Harvey b. 1973 Matthea Harvey
Everyone was happier. But where did the sadness go? People wanted to know. They didn’t want it collecting in their elbows or knees then popping up later. The girl who thought of the ponies made a lot of money. Now a month’s supply of pills came in a hard blue case with a handle. You opened it & found the usual vial plus six tiny ponies of assorted shapes & sizes, softly breathing in the Styrofoam. Often they had to be pried out & would wobble a little when first put on the ground. In the beginning the children tried to play with them, but the sharp hooves nicked their fingers & the ponies refused to jump over pencil hurdles. The children stopped feeding them sugarwater & the ponies were left to break their legs on the gardens’ gravel paths or drown in the gutters. On the first day of the month, rats gathered on doorsteps & spat out only the bitter manes. Many a pony’s last sight was a bounding squirrel with its tail hovering over its head like a halo. Behind the movie theatre the hardier ponies gathered in packs amongst the cigarette butts, getting their hooves stuck in wads of gum. They lined the hills at funerals, huddled under folding chairs at weddings. It became a matter of pride if one of your ponies proved unusually sturdy. People would smile & say, “This would have been an awful month for me,” pointing to the glossy palomino trotting energetically around their ankles. Eventually, the ponies were no longer needed. People had learned to imagine their sadness trotting away. & when they wanted something more tangible, they could always go to the racetrack & study the larger horses’ faces. Gloom, #341, with those big black eyes, was almost sure to win.

“The Crowds Cheered as Gloom Galloped Away” © 2004 Matthea Harvey. Reprinted from Sad Little Breathing Machine with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Source: Sad Little Breathing Machine (Graywolf Press, 2004)

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Poet Matthea Harvey b. 1973

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Sorrow & Grieving, Relationships, Pets

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

 Matthea  Harvey

Biography

Matthea Harvey was born in Germany, spent her childhood in England, and moved to Milwaukee with her family when she was eight years old. She attended Harvard as an undergraduate and the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Iowa. Her collections of poems include Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form (2000), Sad Little Breathing Machine (2004), Modern Life (2007), Of Lamb (2011), and If the Tabloids . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Sorrow & Grieving, Relationships, Pets

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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